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Kilchoman Machir Bay 2012

The Kids Are Alright

0 188

@WhiskyBeeReview by @WhiskyBee

6th Sep 2013


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Because I tend to be skeptical about nearly everything, I resisted the temptation to purchase Kilchoman Machir Bay for a while, despite the widespread praise it’s received. How could something so young be so good? Isn’t this another “gimmick” whisky for which a fancy finish has been employed to mask tender years? Why, 60% of its contents have barely outgrown new-make diapers, for cryin’ out loud!

Then I had a taste, now I’m a believer, to paraphrase the Monkees. Somebody at the distillery (founder Anthony Wills?) must be a Mister Rogers when it comes to dealing with three-, four-, and five-year-old kids (the ages of the malts herein), because something’s going on here that makes the most out of juvenile ingredients. It’s still very light, and the peat-and-sweet content might seem a little artificially cranked up to compensate for the lightness, but the overall quality of the Machir Bay portends great things for the future of Kilchoman.

Notes based on a three-month-old bottle at the 2/3 level. It seems a little open-bottle time has softened some of the spirity edges that I recall from my first dram, which I would have ranked at about 85. Again, it’s light—much lighter than any 46% ABV’er that comes to mind—but it’s still more impressive than anything so young ought to be.

Nose: So light, yet so complex. Fresh salty sea air overrides and tames a dozen things going on underneath: peat, bacon, lemon rind, fresh-cut grass, shellfish, milk chocolate, wood ash, honey, lilacs, Sauvignon Blanc, oranges, and canned cling peaches (yup, that’s a dozen). Not everything hits all at once. It took a good half hour to nose this whisky, both neat and with a teensy dollop of water, in order to detect all of the above elements.

Palate: Shish Kabob doused with strawberry glaze and roasted over a wood-and-peat fire. A bit of sharp licorice and wood when sampled neat; a little more creamy-sweet peat with a drop of water. I like it both ways. Despite the abundant pleasing flavors, it’s still feather-light. Water changes this whisky; it doesn’t tone it down. It’s too mild-mannered to withstand much toning down in the first place. I love these flavors, but I wish there were a little more bang behind them.

Finish: Fairly long and probably the most powerful component of the experience, even as it loses much of its sweetness and acquires some salt and pepper. Very woody and slightly grainy. A trace of honey keeps the bitterness at bay.

I’m sure I’m not the only one eagerly anticipating what will emerge from the Kilchoman casks after a 10- or 12-year rest in the warehouses. Has any other distillery ever acquired such a high reputation after only eight years of operation? Are they on their way to becoming the stuff of legend? Only the “fourth ingredient” will tell.

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PeatyZealot commented

I fancy Kilchoman a lot, but what would these whiskies cost when 10, 12 or even 18yrs? :( Lets just hope they won't make concessions in quality.

10 years ago 0

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